The Baltimore Police Department is launching an experiment to find out if criminal investigations really need to be done by sworn police officers.
The department has unveiled a new plan to address staffing shortages by hiring civilians to work as investigators, according to CNN.
The BPD is experiencing a crisis in recruiting and retaining qualified applicants, with more than 350 vacancies agency-wide. The city’s current $4 billion budget converts 30 sworn officer positions to 35 non-peace officer jobs with a starting pay of $49,000—far less than what police officers earn. Civilian investigators will gather intelligence, conduct background checks, and work cold cases.
“[This plan] is about growing the department and creating additional civilian capacity while being smart about how we deploy officers,” said Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.
The plan was announced by Harrison and Mayor Brandon Scott in April, as the city experiences a rise in violent crimes.
“We’re aligning our staffing plan and our budget resources to bring qualified professional staff to work alongside our officers to prevent, deter and reduce crime more effectively,” Harrison said.